They say having a family history of chronic diseases, such as cancer increases one’s risk of developing the disease. In some cases, this is actually true. We were all born with DNA which makes up our genetics. Everyone’s genome is different, which makes each one of us unique.
DNA is present in literally every cell in our body and carries basic instructions our cells and tissues need to function properly. These instructions are called chromosomes. Most people’s cells contain two sets of 23 chromosomes, one being from our mother, and the other one from our father, so 46 chromosomes in total. Within these chromosomes are approximately 25,000 genes. Our cells use our genetics to make proteins and other substances that are necessary for life. In some genes, changes in the DNA called mutations have been linked to the development of some chronic diseases, one being cancer.
Research and results from studies conducted have shown that our genetics may be a contributing factor to our risk or probability of developing certain types of cancer, including breast, ovarian, colon, prostate, and testicular cancer.
This can be a daunting realization for those at risk, but knowledge is power. So use that knowledge to your advantage. Your family history and genetic testing can actually assist you in making informed medical decisions. Know their risk and chances of developing cancer means you can seek early screenings and detection, and if you do have the disease, early detection can greatly improve the outcome. Truth is, everyone has some risk of developing cancer, and in many cases, the disease develops by chance. However, in a small percentage of people with cancer, the disease is due to a different type of mutation called a hereditary mutation or germline mutation.
These mutations are usually inherited from one or both parents and are present in nearly every cell of the body. Because of this, hereditary mutations, such as cancer, can be passed down through families. This puts people with hereditary mutations at a higher risk of developing the disease, more so than the average person.
One type of cancer that some people are genetically predisposed to developing is testicular cancer. The testicles are made up of different types of cells, each capable of becoming cancer. Testicular cancer is cancer that begins in the testicles, which are the two glands situated inside a man’s scrotum and below the penis. The testicles are responsible for making sperm and the hormone testosterone.
Compared to other types of cancers, testicular cancer is not common. While it is a common type of cancer affecting men, their risk of developing it in their lifetime is under 0.5 percent. It is also one of the most curable cancers, with the risk of dying from it is 1 in 5,000.
While the cause of testicular cancer is not really known, it is more common in men who have had abnormal testicle development, have had an undescended testicle or have a family history of cancer. Symptoms include pain, swelling, or lumps in your testicles or groin area.
New studies show that testing for large numbers of genetic changes can identify men with over a 10-fold increased risk of testicular cancer. Men who have an increased risk may benefit from monitoring or preventative treatment. Testing for a new group of genes associated with testicular cancer has improved the ability to identify men at greatest risk of the disease, which will ultimately save lives.
To learn more about testicular cancer and genetic testing, call the office of Urologic Surgeons of Arizona at (480) 409-5060 to schedule an appointment, or request an appointment online.